This is part two of a recent post entitled: “Deciding To Love: Making It Through Your Spouse’s Faith Transition”, from an anonymous contributor. Part 1 can be read here. The full article is available at athingcalledloveblog.com, and has been re-posted here with permission.
“What if you and your spouse are doing great, but you have a friend whose spouse has left their shared faith? What’s the best way to respond?”
Friends and family can be the greatest sources of either relief or pain in this kind of situation. With the recognition that other people may have totally different needs, these are some dos and don’ts based on my own personal experience:
1. DO act as a sounding-board
I have one close friend who has been incredibly helpful for me because she’s so pragmatic. When I was terrified to tell my family about my husband’s choice to leave the church, she let me practice the conversation with her and gave me tips on how to approach the topic. Let your friend talk it out.
2. DON’T turn your friend into a tragedy
It’s one thing to ask your friend how they’re doing. It’s another to only ever ask “How are you doing?” in a condescending voice. Be available to talk, but don’t assume that this faith crisis is the only thing your friend ever wants to talk about. Just because this happened doesn’t mean that they don’t have other wonderful things going on in their lives that they would rather discuss.
3. DO be supportive of the spouse
My husband didn’t leave the church because he was lazy or just wanted to sin or something. His reasons for leaving were complex and based in church experiences that were very different from my own. Based on his experiences, I understand his choice to leave. The process of leaving was something he agonized over for a long time, and ultimately, I respect him for the decision he made, even if I didn’t make the same decision. I know it may feel supportive to take your friend’s “side” by saying things like “Well, you didn’t sign up for this,” but to me, that is the most hurtful thing I can hear. I love and respect my husband, and when you say something that hurts him, it hurts me. If you want to help me, love him just like you did before. Be both of our friends. Don’t become weird.